A friend of mine lost his voice and due to his work he gets a lot of calls, this is causing him to make an effort to try to speak as loud as he can because people doesn't seem to care that he can't talk properly. How can he deal with this issue without looking unprofessional?


Is he someone who needs to frequently take phone calls from customers, or are these just coworkers wanting to talk to him about day-to-day work? Just coworkers, but from other departments with requirements for him to do.

Is his voice loss a temporary condition? Yes, I guess it will last a couple of days

To further understanding his job doesn't consist in taking calls (like working in a call center). But he usually gets a lot of calls during the day


My friend talked to his boss and he recommended him to see a doctor, as for the phone calls he is still receiving them but is trying to keep them as short as possible, leaving the details for written channels. He will go to the doctor if the problem doesn't go away

  • 1
    Why don't people care that he can't talk properly? Are they aware that he has lost his voice? I have to answer the phone to clients, I recently had my voice affected by a typical winter bug and found they were understanding when I said "sorry I have a sore throat today" near the beginning of the conversation. Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 1:26
  • What is the extent of the loss? People seem to be interpreting it as meaning he can speak softly or is in pain when speaking. In contrast, when I lost my voice a year ago I could not speak at all for a couple days. No “softly” (but still speaking). It means can not speak.
    – JDługosz
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 7:46
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    It's important to check whether continual effort to speak loudly is making the problem worse
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 9:49
  • amazon.com/dp/B074L1P3SF/ref=sspa_dk_detail_3?psc=1
    – jean
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 12:18
  • A speech therapist told me shouting may cause permanent loss of the voice. In other words, your colleague may be suffering from a condition that is temporary now and risks becoming permanent due to his phone behavior. Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 15:10

5 Answers 5


How can he deal with this issue without looking unprofessional?

If your friend's job requires him to take many calls during the shift (as you seem to indicate) then this situation is something that is impeding him from fulfilling his responsibilities. Seems to be also a valid medical condition.

Speaking softly is hardly unprofessional, but a job that requires to take calls being able to speak normally is a must, plus straining his voice now could be more harmful to his state, possibly aggravating his condition.

I suggest that your friend talks to his boss immediately, so they can come up with a proper course of action while his voice recovers. Like I said, seems to be a valid medical condition, so I am sure your friend can get a medical letter explaining his situation and the expected recovery time (to back up his claim). Probably assigning him tasks that do not require much talking, or that prefer typing or writing instead.

Edit per updates: Given that his condition is temporary (even better, a few days) it is more likely that you can come with some course of action with the boss. I still recommend to obtain the Medical Letter to back this up. Redirecting calls to email or chat assistance could be a way for him to still carry out most of his tasks, or well have someone cover for him these few days (as some have suggested).

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    One option to discuss with management: Have someone with a clear voice record a greeting explaining the situation. Ask people to contact him by e-mail or text, or to call an alternate. Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 23:50
  • @PatriciaShanahan yes good suggestion. Seems that the condition is temporal, so this gives us a better scenario. Updated answer per your suggestions and updates from OP.
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 0:08
  • 2
    People: "temporal" means something pertaining to time, a technical term. The word y'all are looking for is "temporary".
    – Mast
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 11:53
  • @Mast thanks :) but seems that "y'all" got what I wanted to say anyways :3 (feel free to edit the mistake)
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 13:52

You don't mention what country you are in. But assuming it's a country with decent sick leave laws: you call in sick, getting a medical note if necessary. If you job requires you to talk on the phone, and you are unable to do so due to a health issue then the sensible thing to do is to stay home and rest until you are well.


Whenever you have a temporary condition that affects your ability do do your work, your highest priority should be to treat that condition. That may entail you rest your vocal chords and stop taking phone calls altogether. Consult with your physician what would be the best course of action.

It´s almost always better to call in sick for a few days, than to drag yourself to work while not 100% fit. First, you´ll probably take longer to recover. Second, the quality of your work can suffer, and that will reflect worse on you than staying at home for a few days. And last, you can infect your colleagues, causing even greater damage to the company.

In cases where you made sure that the above considerations do not apply (like a injured foot, when you are a programmer - or your loss of voice, when you made sure it is not contagious) you should let your manager know of your limitations and see what provisions could be made to accommodate this and keep you working.

In your case, that could be a voice-mail that states your condition and the offer to discuss via e-mail or chat. Remember, don´t risk your recovery - if you get dragged into vocal discussions regularly and it is hurting your condition, reconsider taking a sick leave.


Focus on alternate means of communication

If he really cannot talk properly, he can steer towards alternatives.

For example:

When someone calls, don't pick up but either use a voicemail message or directly send a text message like so:

Untill 5 Dec I cannot use my voice due to medical reasons, for urgent matters please contact person X or leave a message via mail/voice mail. I am also available for direct messsaging on chat tool Y

Note that a voicemail is not equivalent to picking up the phone without speaking because people consciously/unconsciously will expect you to talk back.

  • Note that for long term lack of speech, text to voice solutions may be an alternative, but for a few days it is likely not worth digging into them. Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 10:32

A co-worker should take the call and mention the medical condition.

A co-worker had this issue once and sickness leave was not an option for her, so she would be present and I had to do the talking. As an interesting twist, I had also lost my voice the same day, so we would take turns "talking".

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